Sarah Palin's Attacks Rapper Common's Lyrics
Chicago rapper Common has been the center of controversy as of late. Since receiving an invitation to perform at the White House's Celebration of American Poetry event from the first lady Michelle Obama. Common has been labeled a "Cop Killer" and referred to as a "vile rapper" by Fox Nation. Citing Common's song a Letter to the Law as a threat to shoot police and burn former President George Bush.
A Letter to the Law
Sarah Palin on Common
"All those things that this rapper has glorified and really is known for, it just certainly reflects a lack of judgment on the White House's part." - Sarah Palin
Controversial "Burn A Bush" Line
"Burn a bush, cause for peace he no push no button."
These lyrics are an example of a double entendre. The first meaning being the most obvious translating into "screw President George Bush." The second meaning is an allusion to Noah and the burning bush, where Noah received a message from God to free the Israelites from slavery. In this case the public needs to open up their eyes and free themselves from the oppression of the government.
"Do you fools listen to music or just skim through it?"
Letter to the Law Brief Synopsis
Common's 'A Letter to the Law' is an anthem about racism in America and plight of inner city African Americans. The song is not celebrating the death of our honorable men in uniform or threatening to kill our public leaders, nor is it promoting lawless gun use. First, let's explore the gun references in 'A Letter to the Law'. Common refers to guns 5 times in this anthem. The first reference Common chants rhythmically "But what you gunna do when you got one gun?" Meaning how is someone expected to oppose authority of the state in resistance of mistreatment by law enforcement on their own. The second use of guns at first appears to be an outright threat rapping "Tell the law my Uzi weigh a ton." But remember this is hip-hop, this is poetry, so lyrics can't always be taken at face value. Common's lyrics are an allusion to Public Enemy's track 'My Uzi Weighs a Ton' which is a song about the power of speech.
"Another rapper shot down from the mouth that roared
1 2 3 down for the count
The result of my lyrics oh yes no doubt" -Public Enemy
In the third and fourth mentions, Common makes light of the simplicity of their (those that address problems with violence) approach to authority; as well as alluding to The Black Panthers who originated as a way to protect their communities.
"Them boy chat chat on how him pop gun. I got the black strap to make the cops run" - Common
In the final gun reference, Common raps, "I hold a peace sign but I carry a gun." This statement uses the rhetoric device of irony in a way to highlight the disparity between actions of violence and actions of peace. Common closes his message with "Peace ya'll, love" reenforces the underlying themes of his "letter."
Sarah Palin Should be Offended?
Sarah Palin took real issue with rapper and his song 'A Song for Assata.' Assata Shakur step aunt of Tupac Shakur is a Black Panther member. She is accused of being a domestic terrorist and par-taking in the murder of New York City police officers. She is currently living in Cuba in political asylum.
In Common's song, he pays homage to Assata Shakur for being a revolutionary. Also, he believes she did not engage in the murder of any police officers, like she claims in her autobiography.
Common @ the White House aka "Vile Rapper"
Common is a powerful orator who uses his rhetoric to promote peace as well as raising forth issues of racism in society.
"They want us to hold justice, but you've handed me none
The same they did Kobe and Michael Jackson" -Common
These lines refer to African Americans fighting in wars at times when they were heavily persecuted such as the Revolutionary War, and having nothing to show for their efforts. Also, Common addresses the persecution of black males in the media. Basically saying if you are successful and black they will attack you despite conflicting evidence such as the Kobe and Jackson case. Think what you want about hip-hop. But to label Common "vile" comes across as ignorant, and raises questions about the current state of race relations in the United States.